Love, hate for police in Carenage hills

While res­i­dents of Big Yard, Care­nage, claim they are be­ing tar­get­ed by the po­lice, the near­by com­mu­ni­ty of L’anse Mi­tan is call­ing for high­er vis­i­bil­i­ty of law en­force­ment of­fi­cers due to an on­go­ing war be­tween op­pos­ing gangs who have been un­leash­ing a reign of ter­ror on law-abid­ing cit­i­zens.

The call for a greater po­lice pres­ence was made by L’anse Mi­tan res­i­dents yes­ter­day, four days af­ter Keron Eve, 30, Ka­reem Roberts, 27, and Nao­mi Nel­son, 14, were al­leged­ly shot dead in a po­lice-re­lat­ed shoot­ing.

Al­so in­jured dur­ing the in­ci­dent was res­i­dent Chris­t­ian Eve, 31, and Ronal­do Syd­ney, 21, the god­son of Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley—who is MP for the area.

The T&T Po­lice Ser­vice (TTPS) has stat­ed that pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tions sug­gest­ed that of­fi­cers were car­ry­ing out an ar­rest when they were shot at - a claim which the res­i­dents de­nied. One of­fi­cer was in­jured in that in­ci­dent.

Many of the res­i­dents in the up­scale com­mu­ni­ties close to Big Yard dis­tanced them­selves from speak­ing about the war­ring gangs and their il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties.

On Mon­day, res­i­dents of Big Yard were still emo­tion­al as they spoke glow­ing­ly about Nel­son, a stu­dent of Mu­cu­rapo West Sec­ondary School whom they claim was in­no­cent­ly shot while walk­ing along the street.

“Every­body loved Nao­mi,” Dar­rel David said, as he called on Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Gary Grif­fith to en­sure jus­tice pre­vails.

“We haven’t slept a wink since the shoot­ings. We will con­tin­ue to camp out on the road­way un­til we get jus­tice,” in­ter­ject­ed Natasha Reg­is.

As a form of protest, the res­i­dents blocked a por­tion of Mas­ter’s Cir­cu­lar Road around 7 am with de­bris which they lat­er set on fire. It was, how­ev­er, quick­ly ex­tin­guished by po­lice of­fi­cers who have stepped up pa­trols since the in­ci­dent on Fri­day.

The res­i­dents claimed for over two years they have be­come a reg­u­lar tar­get by the po­lice—one of whom they iden­ti­fied as “Fish.”

“The po­lice get hy­per with this one shot one kill pol­i­cy. They killing in­no­cent peo­ple. I don’t think we would get jus­tice,” David said.

On Sat­ur­day, Row­ley vis­it­ed Big Yard where he ex­pressed con­cern about se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions that rogue po­lice of­fi­cers were op­er­at­ing in the TTPS. The PM said the next step would be a thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

David felt Row­ley’s pres­ence was a waste of time.

“We don’t want to hear about Row­ley. You on­ly come be­cause it is your god­son...We vot­ed for him for 24 years,” David said.

For over two years, the res­i­dents claim they have been un­der con­stant po­lice ha­rass­ment.

David ad­mit­ted that there are a few “el­e­ments” in the com­mu­ni­ty who were hauled be­fore the courts.

“No­body ain’t con­trol­ling no­body up here. That ain’t hap­pen­ing once I here. If any­body says so they would be ly­ing.”

Asked if there was a fight for turf be­tween the Ras­ta City and Mus­lim gang mem­bers, David said there were five Ras­ta City mem­bers in the area who he in­sist­ed have been keep­ing their dis­tance.

“They not ha­rass­ing we. Peo­ple does come and shoot be­hind peo­ple here. It have a hand­ful of peo­ple who have pre­vi­ous records but the po­lice have to deal with it dif­fer­ent­ly.”

Lawrence Joseph said Big Yard was one of the safest com­mu­ni­ties in the West but the in­ci­dent has now cast a stain on them.

“If we don’t get jus­tice, the ta­bles will turn. The Gov­ern­ment cre­at­ing a hate state,” Joseph said.

A stone’s throw away at L’anse Mi­tan, the res­i­dents called for a high­er po­lice vis­i­bil­i­ty, stat­ing that the war­fare be­tween the Ras­ta City and Mus­lims at Big Yard had spilled in­to their tran­quil com­mu­ni­ty.

The Ras­ta City gang is lo­cat­ed up the hill. The Mus­lims are over the riv­er.

“They al­ways fight­ing for turf,” a man­go ven­dor said. “And we are caught in the cross­fire.”

Most of the L’anse Mi­tan res­i­dents Guardian Me­dia spoke to said they were not ha­rassed by the po­lice but would feel a lot safer if an­oth­er po­lice sta­tion is built in their com­mu­ni­ty.

Coun­cil­lor for Care­nage Akeilah Glas­gow said she would speak about Fri­day’s shoot­ing when she had ob­tained all the facts.

Glas­gow re­fused to com­ment about com­plaints of the war­ring gangs.

- by Shaliza Hassanali

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